Diets are complicated.
There is so much to consider. Do I diet by blood type? Do I go out and buy a food scale to count calories? Do I avoid bread?
Many dieters have one goal in mind… to lose weight.
And if so, what’s the best way to do that?
Well, it turns out two British scientists discovered that one of the best ways not to lose weight is to go on a low-calorie diet, immediately following a holiday splurge, also known as yo-yo dieting.
“Surprisingly,” says Prof. Higginson, “our model predicts that the average weight gain for dieters will actually be greater than those who never diet. This happens because non-dieters learn that the food supply is reliable so there is less need for the insurance of fat stores.”
Higginson compares this method to an animal whose basic instincts make it gather food when it is abundant and hoard food when it is not.
Higgison says the human response is animalistic, almost evolutionary, where the human body reacts the same way to a sudden scarcity of food (low calories) by keeping weight.
The animals do not know when food will appear again, so it is hoarded and stored for later, aka weight gain.
If you’re a person who eats chocolate cakes, shortbread cookies, and pie from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and then January 1, you give up the sweets cold turkey, and cut your caloric intake to salads and green tea, you might experience trouble shedding a few pounds.
Your body will think you’re starving (probably because you are) and it will kick into survival mode and you’ll continue to walk around with a spare tire longer than necessary.
Does the British duo have any advice then, for dieters to achieve their goals of losing weight?
The best thing for weight loss is to take it steady. Our work suggests that eating only slightly less than you should, all the time, and doing physical exercise is much more likely to help you reach a healthy weight than going on low-calorie diets.
This approach is much easier to maintain also. Reducing your caloric intake by 500-1000 calories after the holidays would be as easy as going back to normal eating patterns while avoiding cookies, pies, and candy.
Once, you’ve achieved equilibrium, if you want to shed more weight, you will gradually need to wean off a few more calories, and add exercise into your regiment.
If you watch what you eat through the holidays, you will also have less to shed when they’re done.
Good luck and let us know how you plan to approach your food intake in the coming weeks. Post below if the strategy of moderate eating and exercise is on your to-do list for 2017!